The invention of potential programs that replace designers has been a constant subject matter in the industry.
Canva is probably the most famous one since it’s accessible to everyone, was created by designers, and is used by designers as well.
So, does this mean it’s putting us off work or, in reality, is helping us delegate tasks and putting clients in control?
I would say there’s sense to both arguments but let’s analyze some arguments before reaching our conclusion.
Why these programs replace designers
For starters, I have to confess that I’m a doer. Even when I don’t know something from the start, I will try to learn it and make do with the resources that I have at hand. For that reason, I can’t condemn business owners who do the same. I get it. It’s hard to invest, especially when the company is small, and they’re just getting started.
So it’s a dream having a program that is accessed online from any device, free and open to everyone and doesn’t require a massive learning curve.
To that regard, Canva falls under the category of programs that replace designers.
However, we know it’s not that simple. Since professional designers aren’t supposed to be pixel pushers, it only replaces part of what we do – the execution. What about the rest of it? The research, strategy, and testing?
There’s where they lack, and it’s one of the reasons why they can’t replace designers. But there’s more.
And why they aren’t programs that replace designers (fully)
Continuing to use Canva as our example, there several reasons why it doesn’t replace what designers have to offer.
One size fits all
Though there’s the possibility of choosing a particular industry, most of the results are ideas repeated to exhaustion.
This means that, most likely, brands will end up looking very much the same. Clients often want to look like other brands, but you and I know that they are wrong.
What works for a brand might not necessarily work for another. The one size fits all is a terrible approach to design, and a recurrent one in these platforms.
Everyone uses these programs
A huge percentage of businesses used programs like Canva to cut costs. This means that most likely they will end up using the same recommended templates, and, as a result, their brand will look like their neighbors’.
There’s no reason or rime behind these software programs, contrarily to want happens when a professional designer does the job.
Directly related to the previous reason, this is one of the reasons why Canva will only allow to go so far.
Yes, they do offer multiple templates, but they aren’t cohesive, and in the long run, it will feel like it’s hard to spice things up or create something new that still fits with the rest. Contrastingly, a designer will create a branding guideline book that ensures the continuation of the brand and further possibilities to explore.
Does not serve all purposes
Assets can be created online without specific software. However, it is not uncommon that these programs only allow some file formats. Frequently, they’re not the proper ones.
As a result, clients might cut costs on business cards by DIYing them, only to realize after printing that they are pixelated.
The same goes for exporting logos. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen low-quality logos on websites and social media images.
Branding comes at a cost
Canva and other programs are now allowing for creating consistent branding assets. That’s a great thing.
However, in most cases, it’s no longer free. The user needs to pay for it. To make things worse, I have the impression that if these assets aren’t put together by someone who knows what is doing, it will make matters even worse. The branding feature comes with the cost of – not only paying for it – but also paying someone to create initial structures as well.
In my opinion, Canva does not replace designers. It replaces those that claim to be designers but only do what they’re told. They are not designers to my account.
Also, there’s a lot of people claiming to be Canva designers. There’s no such thing unless you actually work for Canva and design their templates.
Lastly, I would like to mention that some good things come from it. I’m seeing a lot of professionals setting up templates on the platform so that clients can edit the content and reuse them. That’s not bad. It empowers clients to be a part of the design process and to stay engaged with their branding.
Design is less about execution and more about collaboration. So let’s support each other and work together.